SA has spent in excess of R29 billion on land reform

SA has spent in excess of R29 billion on land reform
South Africa land reform

According to some media reports R29 billion would have been sufficient to buy approximately 37% of the agricultural land in South Africa. This means the current 8% could have been 37%.

As South Africa enters into a next phase of land reform, it may be worthwhile for policymakers to compare results with what Namibia has achieved over the past two decades.

Ancestral land rights are not acknowledged in Namibia. This decision was taken way back in 1991 where it was decided that redistribution would be based on the willing seller/willing buyer principle and that there would be no recognition of ancestral land rights.

Namibian government has the right of first refusal on all land sales. If a Namibian farmer wants to sell his lands, he or she needs to first offer it to the state.

According to Sakkie Coetzee of the Namibia Agricultural Union, approximately 9.4 million hectares, or more than 60% of the 15 million hectare target has been acquired in terms of this program. This also equates that 27% of the total agricultural land in Namibia has been transferred to blacks Namibians.

Of the total available South African agriculture land, only 8% has been transferred in 20 years. This is less than a third of the 27% Namibia managed in the same period.

This is also not only in relative terms: The reality is that Namibia transferred 9,4 million hectares and South Africa managed less than 7 million.

One of the main reasons for this slow progress is the actual ancestral right principle, where individual farms are being targeted for redistribution following land claims.

Why did the South African government not considered an approach similar to the Namibian example?

Unfortunately, it seems as if this proposal was rejected on two occasions.


photo credit: Sean Garrett (blacktau) via photopin

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